At the request of his sister Emma, Billy Coburn is back in Bitter Creek, Texas to visit his dying mother. Unfortunately, the first person he runs into is Jackson Blackthorne, the father of his girlfriend Summer, who two years ago made him a deal to stay away from their family.

But secrets that have dwelled in the background are just about ready to explode to the surface. Summer learns for the first time that she's not Jackson Blackthorne's child; Billy is. Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that Summer is engaged to be married in two weeks to a lawyer hand-picked by her "father." But Summer still loves Billy and when Billy asks her to marry him, she cannot refuse. The previously pampered Summer learns how to launder diapers, cook dinners, and care for Billy's mother Dora, who is antagonistic towards her.

Though Billy and Summer's marriage is central to the plot, subplots abound, thereby enriching this read. Blackjack leaves his wife Eve to move in with longtime love Ren Creed. Ren's paraplegic son Sam also merits concern when he hires Billy's pregnant sister, Emma, to be his housekeeper. Can Emma love him for the man he is?

Fans of Ms. Johnston will recognize the family names of the two Texas dynasties, Blackthorne and Creed. Rich supporting characters generate a depth that shows romance can be found at any age, in any walk of life, and even with physical limitations. (Apr., 357 pp., $6.99)

Reviewed by: 
Sheri Melnick